Sunday, November 3, 2013

I love you, mom.

My beautiful, loving, funny, caring, amazing mother passed away 9 days ago.

I just feel lost.

She was diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer 3 months ago.  She passed away 11 weeks after we got the news.  We were told she had time.  We were told the kind of cancer she had (non-small cell lung cancer - adenocarcinoma) was slow progressing.  We were told there were a litany of treatments she could have.

She hadn't smoked a cigarette in 29 years.  She quit the moment she found out she was pregnant with me.

To spare you the details, the treatments didn't work.  The cancer spread to her brain.  The brain radiation didn't work.  The chemotherapy didn't work.  Her cancer progressed rapidly.  It didn't act the way the doctors expected it to act.  We had no idea.

We didn't know it was killing her so quickly.  We had no clue.  And now I'm left with a ton of woulda, shoulda, couldas.

And a lot of doubts.

My mom and I were so close.  We did stuff together almost every weekend.  Mainly shopping.  We loved to shop.  (I think that was an inherited trait.)  She helped me take care of C after he was born... she helped me take care of myself.  A month after I gave birth, she was diagnosed.  Man, did she love my kid.  She cried the night he was born.  She cried every time I texted her a picture.  Now, he's going to grow up without knowing her. It guts me to think about that.

There's a void.

I miss my mom.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Music Monday

I haven't been here for a long time, but I'm back.

Last year was very difficult, and as a result, I didn't want to blog.  I have a lot going on this year, and I'm looking forward to sharing some exciting things that will be happening.  My camera fell ill last year (much like it's owner), however, it's being fixed and I'll hopefully have some pictures to share soon.

But for now, music.

I'm going to California this year for the first time ever.  I'm SUPER excited!  My friend J and I are spending a long weekend in LA.  We plan to spend some time at Venice Beach and Santa Monica.  We're going to window shop at The Grove and hit up some good restaurants.

Oh.  We're also going to see the Red Hot Chili Peppers at the Staples Center.

GAHHH!! No big deal, only my favorite band EVER.  Anthony Kiedis may have been my desktop background through most of college (when I say may, I mean definitely was).  So basically, Anthony Kiedis helped me concentrate on my computer based studies more.  As a result, he could be credited with helping me graduate from college.  Thank you, Anthony.

In honor of this upcoming trip, my Music Monday selection is pretty obvious.  Enjoy!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Things I've done since my last post on May 9th


I went to Florida.  Again.  I am a lucky gal to have a best pal in such a great place!

I saw one of my favorite bands in concert (for the 2nd time) and...

I caught a pick (for the first time)!

K and I celebrated our one year anniversary!  Morton's is the ish.  Look at that cute menu!  Look at my improving Photoshop skills!

I sprained my ankle playing this game on the 4th of July.  Yes, It's KanJam.  I am very outdoorsy, coordinated, and athletic -  didn't you know?

I went to Myrtle Beach for the first time!  While there...

I climbed a rock wall.  All the way to the top!  (That's me to the right).  I was very proud of myself.

I drank a little bit of wine with some friends.

I visited NYC for the first time in 2 years.  2 years?!  How does time go by so quickly?  2 years is way too long for me to be away from my favorite city.  My friends and I did a lot of shopping...

and we may have visited the 230 Fifth rooftop bar and taken advantage of their complementary snuggies.

I also went to Vegas for the first time ever.  In fact, it was my first time being west of Texas.  LOVE it out there.  Mountains, desert, warmth... now I just need to get to California!

May have also been on a rooftop in Vegas, too.  What can I say, I like roofs!  Not roofies though.  Staying away from the roofies.

So now what?  No more trips for this year, which is disappointing.  I'm extremely lucky to have been to all of the places that I've gone, so no complaints here!

I'm glad I did this silly little picture post, because it's made me realize that this year hasn't been ALL bad.  I've had several health issues that have dampened my spirits a bit, but I'm still living and loving life!  That's all we can do, right?  Right.

Monday, May 9, 2011


When I was little, my dad taught me how to use his turntable.  I used to sit on the floor, listening to his old records for hours.  Among my favorites?

Anything by Chicago.  "25 or 6 to 4" is a favorite.  My all time favorite, however, is "Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?"  This song will forever remind me of the countless drives I've taken to NYC.  It's been on every mix CD I've made for that drive across I-80... and I've made a lot of mixes over the years!

My dad's record collection took up a lot of space in the small computer room in my parent's house.  He moved the turntable and the records into their basement.  Sadly, all of his records warped from the moisture, and he threw them all away.  Whomp whomp.

One of my friends recently introduced me to Jerry's Record Store (here in Pittsburgh).  They have a mind blowing collection of new and used records... including a majority of albums that I grew up listening to.  I rescued my dad's old turntable from my parent's basement, bought a bunch of records, and I'm officially obsessed with vinyl again.  I love the way it sounds.  I also love the fact that you can't *easily* skip songs.  I'm such a song skipper with my iPod.  I could have musical ADD, if there was such a thing.

I'm not only finding my old school favorites... I've also found some modern albums that I never knew were released on vinyl.  I LOVED Blink-182 when I was in junior high school.  While I don't listen to them as often now, this album was way too cool to pass up.  The album cover is printed on both sides of the record!

If you know me even a little bit, you know that Weezer is my all time favorite band (I'm going to see them, live, later this month for the first time in 9 years! WOOT!).  I'm seriously dying to get my hands on a vinyl copy of Pinkerton. 

Looks like they have several up for grabs on eBay, though they're pretty expensive.  If anyone needs to buy me a present, you know what to get! (Hear that, K?!  *hint hint*).  

Thursday, March 10, 2011


If I could tell you just one thing about myself, it would be that I would do anything for my friends and family.  I'm often times loyal to a fault (read: I have a big mouth, and I'm not afraid to tell those who wrong them where they can go.  Oops). 

My friendships are not defined by the number of times I see someone in a day, a week, or even a month.  Some friends I see every day.  Some friends I see every week.  Some, I see when I vacation.  Others, I've never met in person.

I've never considered it odd to make friends online.  When I was in middle school and making websites on Geocities like a boss (RIP Geocities.  I miss you), I made some friends my age.  As an adult, I've met a multitude of wonderful women through various outlets, one of which being Weddingbee.  Of course, I've also made a bunch of friends through this blog, too.  Today, one of these friends needs some help.

Layla is a witty, kind, and overall awesome girl.  We "met" on Weddingbee, and have moved on to be Twitter/blog buddies.  She's going through a rough time right now, but the good news is - you can help!  Here's her story:

One month after her 30th birthday, Layla was diagnosed with early stage cervical cancer (1A Adenocarcinoma). She was extraordinarily lucky that it was caught early, and had a simple surgery to remove the cancerous cells.

Three years later, Layla was in horrible pain that affected nearly every aspect of her life. Temporarily uninsured due to a job change, she paid out of pocket last October to go to the doctor and make sure the cancer had not returned. Thankfully, it had not. However, her doctor believes that she has pelvic adhesions and Endometriosis due to the previous surgery, but it can’t be diagnosed until an additional surgery (laparoscopy) is performed. The doctor also found out Layla has cervical stenosis, which basically means her cervix has completely shut down due to the scar tissue from the previous surgery. These issues make her miserable most of the time, making simple things like going to the bathroom and menstruation horribly painful, and sexual intercourse impossible. He stated that if she wanted to have children one day, even sperm could not pass through her cervix, and she would have to have intrauterine insemination.

The doctor wanted to schedule surgery as soon as the insurance at her new job went into effect. Her company fired her the day her insurance became valid, ten days before Christmas, plainly stating that it was because of her health issues.

Fortunately, she got on her husband’s insurance, which went into effect February 1st. As soon as she could, Layla scheduled surgery for March 22nd. Then her insurance company dropped a bomb: because she went to the doctor (even as a self-pay patient) within a three month period prior to her enrollment date, they were considering her health issues to be a pre-existing condition, and would not insure any doctor visits, medication, or surgery for 388 days.

When you are in near constant pain and can’t work, 388 days is a long time to wait. The sooner Layla can have this surgery, the sooner she can return to work (hopefully with a nicer company!) and start living her life again. Her doctor has been nice enough to work out a deal with her if she can pay as a cash patient: he decreased the amount of her surgery to $4,000, and the cost of the anesthesia to $500, with additional fees for biopsies of removed tissue to be determined.

The problem is, Layla is unemployed due to this, has used her savings to pay for living expenses and medical bills, and has been denied loans for the surgery because of her unemployment status. She does not have close family, so she can’t ask them for help. Surgery is scheduled for March 22nd, and Layla and her husband are unable to secure a loan due to her unemployment.  She needs some help, and she needs it in 2 weeks.

So, how can you help?
  • Donate!  Use the button at the top right of this page, or click here.  We're collecting money through PayPal, so it's totally secure.  Any little bit will help us reach her goal of $4,000. 
  • Bid on sweet eBay deals!  Several of us are putting up some items on eBay, with the proceeds going to Operation Layla.  Need a used iPod Touch or a pretty Coach purse?  Stop on by and check 'em out. Nobody is really bidding on them yet... so you could score some cool stuff on the cheap, AND help out someone in need!
  • Eat Carbs! No really, we're organizing an online bake sale (drool) to raise some money for Operation Layla!  More details on that to come.  Why did I give up cookies for Lent?!  *Shakes tiny fist*
  • Follow Us! Follow the hash tag #OperationLayla on Twitter.  Let us know if you want to get involved in any way!
Thanks for reading, and stay tuned for more updates!

Saturday, March 5, 2011

I Surrender.

Heeey guys.  I'm back!  It's been a long hiatus, but I promise I have an excuse.  No, I wasn't mourning the loss of the Steelers, nor did I go into hiding.

Ok,  maybe a little bit of hiding.  That game sucked.

Truth is... I've been sick.  At the risk of over sharing, I figured I'd tell you guys what happened.  

This post is pretty detailed and not sunshine and rainbows.  Just a warning.  If you're grossed out when people describe health related crap, skip this post and go here instead.  Also, I'm not in the health field.  I'm not a doctor, and any commentary I give on my experiences should not be taken as medical advice, blah blah blah.  So, here it goes.

It started with vertigo.  If you've never had vertigo, be thankful.  It's miserable, to say the least.  My vertigo was caused by an inner ear virus.  You know how after you've had a few too many beverages, and you stumble around your kitchen looking for some water at the end of the night (not that I've ever done that)?  That stumbling can't-get-your-balance sensation is what vertigo feels like.  Every time I would move my head EVERYTHING would spin.  Fortunately, I'm not prone to motion sickness.  I stomach spinning rides and balance issues pretty well, and I'm VERY thankful for that, because otherwise it would have been 398439 times worse.

The vertigo lasted 2 weeks, and ended shortly after I had my wisdom teeth removed.  That surgery was nothing.  However, after the surgery is where my problems started.

The staff at the surgeon's office recommended I take multiple doses of Motrin to relieve any pain, rather than relying on the narcotic pain pills they prescribed as a backup.  They told me to take 4 Motrin every 4-6 hours, depending on the pain.  Well, I did that for a few days and BAM.  Stomach ulcer.

My doctor put me on Prilosec.  A few pills later, and my ulcer was in check.  Ok, great.  I continued taking the antibiotic the surgeon's office had also prescribed as a preventative measure.  I mean, I had open wounds in my mouth.  Made sense to me.  

Well, it so happened the antibiotic they prescribed was Cylindamycin.  Ever heard of it?

A warning on Cylindamycin from the National Institute of Health:
"....may cause a life-threatening condition called colitis (inflammation of the large intestine). Clindamycin is more likely to cause this type of infection than many other antibiotics, so it should only be used to treat serious infections that cannot be treated by other antibiotics."
Hmm.  Erm, so what do you think happened?

Once the antibiotic killed off all of the "good" bacteria in my intestines, a bacterium called Clostridium Difficile took over.  I had developed a "C-diff" infection.  I'm not going to post about the specifics of what this infection causes, but you can read all about it here.  It obviously caused colitis, as well as all the horrible side effects that you'll read about if you Google "C-diff."

C-diff is becoming more and more prevalent.  It is typically known as a nosocomial infection, and often picked up by people (usually the elderly) from long stays in the hospital.  It's antibiotic resistant (yes, they treat an infection caused by antibiotics with more antibiotics. Whatever.), and hard to cure.  I managed to get it as a healthy 25 year old, as a result of taking an antibiotic.

Combine the (what I believe to be) unnecessary prescription of Clindamycin from the oral surgeon, AND the Prilosec (which is believed to also be linked to C-diff), and I was le screwed.

My doctor treated me for it.  It went away.

It came back a week after I finished my medicine. When it came back, it was three times worse.  I had a fever.  I was weak.  I missed work for 2 days.  They put me on a different antibiotic.

In the middle of my treatment, it came back.  This time, it put me in the hospital.

The colitis was causing severe pain.  My symptoms were back.  I was sick, sick, sick.   They had me on a clear liquid diet.  The picture above was my breakfast for the first day.  Clear broth, jello and apple juice.  Gross.

I went to the hospital late Tuesday night.  They released me on Friday.  I'm doing better, and glad to be away from my dancing partner, R2D2.

Dear God, do I hate these damn pumps.  I've never stayed in the hospital as a patient before.  I've never had the joy of having an IV, either.  But man, was this machine annoying!  Not only would it beep and scream for NO reason, it just made sleeping and moving pretty miserable.

I'm now on MORE medicine for a longer period of time, and I'm really hoping the third time is a charm.

I'm tired, to say the least.  I'm tired of being sick.  I very rarely get sick, so this string of bad luck has me pretty down in the dumps.  Suffice to say, it's also made me unwilling to post on here.  I'm hoping to get back to normal soon, and enjoy our upcoming trip to Florida!

Congrats to you for making it through this post!  I'll have some cheerful stuff coming in the next week, including good times at the Lady Gaga concert.  Side note: a special thanks to my Twitter pals for keeping me company at the hospital (through Twitter, of course), when K was at work.  You guys gave me something to do at the hospital other than watch countless hours of reality TV.  So, thanks!

Have a good weekend, all!

Friday, February 4, 2011

In case you didn't know...

I'm a huge Steelers fan.

If you're friends with me on Twitter, you already know this. Why am I such a huge fan of a football team?

This is a bar in Florida, believe it or not.

Pittsburgh has a lot of heart. We're not a huge city, a glamorous city, or even a huge tourist destination. Pittsburgh has charm though, and it's home. I've lived here for 15+ years, and just recently, I've started to notice how much I really regard it as "home."

Last super bowl parade... this garage was obvi. a popular spot.
I miss Pittsburgh when I'm away. I'm proud to live here. I hate the weather, but hey, you can't have it all. Unless you live in Hawaii. Then, I'm jealous.

In my mind, the Steelers represent Pittsburgh. When I cheer for the black and gold (or black and yellow - holy crap, Wiz Khalifa caused quite the debate), I'm cheering for our city! I'm also cheering because I love football. I think it's a requirement to love football in this city.

So, this weekend, I'll be cheering for my city and our awesome football team. Go Steelers! Go Pittsburgh! Bring home lucky number 7!

Who are you cheering for?